Reading about campus events and student opinions in The Collegian is commonplace on a weekly basis today, but years ago BJU did not have a student-run newspaper.
This year marks the 30th year of publication of the campus paper that has become such an integral part of BJU campus life.
The newspaper originally began both as a lab for journalism students to put their writing into practice and as a tool to inform BJU of current events on and off campus. The first issue was published Oct. 9, 1987.
BJU offered only one journalism course to students interested in journalistic writing prior to introducing a full major in journalism in the mid-’80s.
Shortly after the creation of the journalism major, The Collegian came into existence, thanks to the efforts of Bob Whitmore, BJU graduate and former coordinator of the Publications Department (later known as Creative Services and today as Marketing Communications) at BJU.
Whitmore approached Dr. Bob Jones III about a campus newspaper one year before his efforts came to fruition.
This hesitation occurred because the administration was unsure of how a newspaper would affect The University.
Whitmore spent the next year preparing his proposal to address all the administration’s concerns regarding a campus newspaper.
“When I had all my arguments ready, I made an appointment to see Dr. Bob III,” Whitmore said. “I started in that we needed a student newspaper, and he agreed without hearing any of my arguments. It was obvious that he was ready before I came to his office.”
The Collegian has come a long way since 1987. Betty Solomon, who has been the faculty adviser for The Collegian all 30 years and is a professor in the journalism and mass communication department, said the newspaper was and still is an important part of BJU.
Solomon joined Whitmore as co-sponsors of The Collegian during the first years and has served as faculty adviser ever since.
“One of the reasons we thought it was so important to have a school newspaper [was because] it served the entire campus and beyond,” Solomon said.
The evolution of The Collegian from a bi-weekly newspaper—with printed stories and photos physically cut and pasted onto a board and carried to the print shop—to the weekly newspaper—with stories and photos uploaded and posted on its own website and multiple social media accounts—is part of the long history the staff will be celebrating throughout the year.
The process of reporting and writing the content of The Collegian has remained quite similar over the years, but physically putting the paper together has definitely changed.
Whitmore said the early Collegian staff used a Mac Plus with a tiny built-in monitor, and they used Ready,Set,Go! as their desktop publishing software.
“At that time, desktop publishing and electronic pre-press production was in its infancy,” he said.
One early staff member, Dave McQuaid, contributed much to the production of The Collegian, both as a writer and designer when he was a student and later as the production adviser after he graduated.
McQuaid joined The Collegian staff in the newspaper’s second year as the features editor, helping with the layout and ad design in addition to writing for the newspaper.
The Collegian benefited from McQuaid’s skills for an additional 15 years, as he stayed at BJU after graduating joining the same publications department that Whitmore had headed. “As time went on, I helped the staff progress to an all-digital production method, eventually helping them set up their own production studio in The Collegian office,” McQuaid said.
He also helped with the creation and updating of the logotype, type choices and page templates.
“I helped mentor the editors and guide them in their choices and vision for the paper,” he said.
Solomon said the first staff members really felt the responsibility of doing their best in serving the campus.
“Those early years of students were so excited that they were doing something new,” Solomon said. The later staffs carried that same enthusiasm with them throughout the 30 years.
Whitmore said he thinks the newspaper helped make strides in BJU’s history.
“I think The Collegian helped increase school spirit on the campus and also became a promotional tool to show parents and prospective students what was happening on campus,” Whitmore said. “That was our purpose, along with giving our journalism students practical experience, and I think it was successful.”
Photo of the original Collegian staff of 1987.